11 Beautiful Places in the World to Photograph

March 21, 2019 |

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Seeing all of the most beautiful places in the world and bringing home photographs of them would take ten lifetimes. Still, visiting some of the top ones is a worthwhile endeavor. Here, we give you 11 to start filling up your bucket list.

 

11 of the World’s Most Beautiful Places to Photograph

Not only do each of these travel destinations offer opportunities for fun, relaxation and reflection, but they are also absolutely gorgeous. Let your inner photographer out by planning trips to these 11 beautiful places.

 

1. Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye Danxia, China.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Bring an extra memory card with you to this visual feast. Seeing the red, green, yellow and blue covered mountains is amazing, but when you realize the colors are entirely natural, you’ll begin to question the superiority of Photoshop in creating images of stunning beauty.

 

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

While we’re on the topic of stunning stone formations, don’t overlook the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, right here in the USA.

 

3. Lavender Fields of Provence, France.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

As far as the eye (and camera lens) can see, fragrant purple flowers spread out before you. Along with unforgettable images, you can bring home some sweet-smelling herbs.

 

4. Keukenhof Park, Holland.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

If you love photographing flowers, capturing the rainbow-colored fields of tulips when they bloom in mid-April each year must be on your list of the most beautiful places in the world to photograph.

 

5. Glowworm Caves, Waitomo, New Zealand.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

(Photo by 2il org; located at this link; licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0.)

Do you enjoy stargazing? If so, you’ll love seeing this ‘underground Milky Way.’ Snap a shot of some of the thousands of bioluminescent worm larvae that dot the top of these magnificent subterranean structures.

 

6. Santorini, Greece.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Opa! This destination is not just a great place to relax or enjoy fun with friends. Santorini is one of the most photogenic places in the world. Come here to capture striking images of ancient whitewashed buildings and bright blue roofs.

 

7. Redwood National Park, California, USA.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Another place with otherworldly beauty that’s surprisingly close to home is California’s Redwood National Park. Whether you want to snap a picture of the background for the battle of Endor or feel tiny next to enormous, 2,000-year old giants, this is a must-see spot.

 

8. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Planet Earth’s largest living ecosystem is best viewed, and photographed, underwater. Snap on a snorkel or get scuba-certified and bring your underwater camera to capture some of the most beautiful beaches and marine life on Earth.

 

9. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

You don’t have to like fairy tales to feel awestruck at Germany’s most famous castle. Visit in September or October for the least-crowded views of this magical landscape.

 

10. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

16 lakes and lagoons flowing into each other with waterfalls hidden around every corner? Yes, please! This water-forward wonderworld is a dream to see and should definitely be on your list of the most beautiful places in the world to photograph.

 

11. Vatnajökull, Iceland.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

If you don’t mind the cold, embrace Iceland’s largest glacier as the location of some of the most stunning ice formations on earth. Ice caves, volcanoes and frozen canyons are waiting to be explored.

 

This list just barely scratches the surface of the most photogenic places in the world. Let these destinations inspire you to plan your next adventure.

If you’d like some help mapping out your trip, contact our talented team of travel advisors today. We’d love to help you make memories to last a lifetime!

6 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

March 14, 2019 |

6 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

If you’re one of the estimated 34.5 million Americans with Irish ancestry, March 17 is a green letter day for you. New York, Boston and Chicago are some of the best U.S. destinations for celebrating St. Paddy’s Day; all boast large, festive parades and neat traditions (like dying the Chicago River green).

However, if you really want to celebrate your Irish roots, or you just like a good party, you’ll want to check out these tips for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Whether you’re Irish or not, donning green and drinking beer with friends is a time-honored way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. In Ireland, the place to be on this holiday is Dublin. What began as a one-day celebration in Ireland’s capital city has turned into the country’s biggest multi-day festival and one of Europe’s best.

Here are six tips for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland:

1. Watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

This is the parade to end all parades when it comes to St. Paddy’s Day. It’s been likened to Carnival in Rio only colder, with marching bands and colorful puppets.

2 Visit the Guinness Factory. 

Ireland’s most-visited tourist attraction is worth fighting the crowds at on St. Patrick’s Day. The factory throws its own party to celebrate the holiday and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Be sure to spy a view of downtown Dublin from the Guinness Gravity Bar.

3 Walk the Streets St. Patrick Walked. 

Take the road less traveled through Dublin with a walking tour that guides you down the spots that everyone from Celts to Vikings to Normans have called home. Choose a guided tour from a historian or a themed tour that focuses on Dublin’s art, culture, gardens or pub scene.

4 Explore Your Ancestry. 

The National Archives of Ireland is located on Bishop Street and houses an abundance of genealogy information. If you’ve been wanting to reconnect with your Irish roots, add this must-see stop to your itinerary.

5 Get Pinched at an Irish Pub. 

Or avoid this favorite holiday past time by keeping a pint of green beer in your hand. The local pubs are overflowing with history and green beer around St. Patrick’s Day. Set aside time to enjoy one.

6 Get Outside the City. 

Explore Dublin county and take in one of the many St. Patrick’s Day festivals happening there. The town of Skerries hosts a family-friendly festival for St. Patrick’s Day that features international musicians, fireworks and a presentation on St. Patrick himself.

Our travel advisors are here to help you plan the perfect St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland! Contact us today to get started.

9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

March 6, 2019 |

9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take unforgettable travel pics. In fact, all you need to catalog your journeys is your smartphone. Technology has made that mini computer in your pocket a powerful tool for capturing all your travel moments.

If you want to bring home more than mental memories from your next trip, use these nine tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone.

Strategies for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

1. Find a focus. When you turn your smartphone camera on, it will automatically focus on whatever is in the foreground. If you want to focus on something in the background or in another particular part of your screen, tap on the part of the screen where you want the camera to focus.

While we’re on the topic of focus, try to pick one subject to focus on in each shot. Tapping that subject on your smartphone screen will help the camera optimize lighting and movement for that subject and should result in a better picture.

2. Capture casual shots. Mix in at least a few images that don’t involve people looking at the lens. You’ll get a mixture of posed shots and candid emotions that will make for a more interesting scrapbook or realistic collage of your trip.

Pro tip: “If you’re on a trip visiting many places, take a picture of the name of where you are (i.e., Brandenberg Gate). You may not think you would forget, but once you return, it can become quite confusing to remember. I even take pictures of the hotels and other information to remember upon my return.” — Travel Advisor Lisa Salloum

3. Use a third-party camera app. Your smartphone comes with some pretty good software, but adding a third-party camera app will give you more advanced features like filters, tools, white balance adjustment and the option to shoot RAW (uncompressed) footage that you can perform advanced editing on back home.

4. Practice the principle of fours. With such a powerful tool in your pocket, it’s easy to keep your smartphone in your hand, with the camera app on all the time. The downside to this is that you may not be as present as you’d like on your actual trip and you end up with more pictures than you need. The principle of fours can help you get enough shots to capture the highlights of your trip without being a slave to your smartphone. Make it your goal to capture every setting on your trip with just four shots. Once you have them, put your phone away and enjoy the activity!

5. Use the rule of thirds. Your smartphone has a handy little feature called grids or gridlines within its built-in camera app. Use them to frame out more interesting and dynamic shots. The rule of thirds is the idea that a photo splits into three sections vertically and horizontally into nine total parts. Framing something of interest along these lines results in a more compelling, balanced and engaging shot.

6. Put your phone on airplane mode when you’re getting ready to take a shot. This way you won’t have your perfect picture interrupted by a call, text or email notification.

7. Instead of selfies, ask a stranger to take your photo. You’ll get a better image, meet some locals and just may have a story or two to take home.

8. Don’t zoom. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s better to get more of your surroundings in the frame than to crop it out with your smartphone’s zoom feature. Instead, edit, zoom and crop to your heart’s content when you return home.

9. Embrace empty space. We started on focus and we’re ending on it as well because it’s the most important compositional element of a photo. Empty or ‘negative’ space is just the area around your subject. Including a lot of negative space around your subject will help your eye focus on your subject, which will result in a more compelling, engaging and visually stimulating photograph.

 

There are many more tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone. This list barely scratches the surface. For more tips, check out this list from Hubspot or do a Google search on the topic.

For help planning your next getaway, give one of our travel advisors a call or connect online today. We look forward to helping you find the perfect location for your next photo shoot!

7 Dreamy Destination Wedding Locations

February 27, 2019 |

7 Dreamy Destination Wedding Locations

Whether you want to ski the slopes with your new spouse and a few of your closest family and friends or tie the knot on a far off beach somewhere with your entire wedding party, planning a destination wedding begins and ends with three things — location, location, location.

Here are seven dreamy destination wedding locations to make your special day absolutely unforgettable.

 

1. Hawaii. If coconuts are calling your name, answer them with a destination wedding in Hawaii. While it may be overlooked by some since it is part of the United States, Hawaii is every bit as exotic and tropical as other, more remote or international islands. Best of all, booking your destination wedding here won’t require a passport.

2. Costa RicaIf you want to take your destination wedding planning to an international location and still want to hold it on a beach, consider Costa Rica. This country is not only friendly to Americans but boasts some of the best beaches and ecotourism spots in the world.

3. MoroccoMarrakech has made Morocco a popular destination wedding spot for celebrities as of late, but you don’t have to be a star to have an unforgettable wedding here. If bohemia and old world architecture are your fancy, Morocco could be the perfect spot for your destination wedding.

4. AspenThe Rocky Mountains make an enormously scenic backdrop for any wedding photo, but if you are a ski aficionado, you will fall in love with Aspen. Its luxurious mountain lodges and world-famous ski resorts are just a short drive away from Denver, making this destination wedding an easy one for your guests to get to.

5. Turks and Caicos. If you want to hold your wedding in a truly exotic locale that has a faraway island feel, the undeveloped and sparsely populated islands of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean will satisfy your desire.

6. TuscanyWant to tie the knot in wine country? If so, Tuscany is the perfect place for you. Nestled along Italy’s western coast, Tuscany’s rustic, romantic vibe pairs perfectly with its world-class wine and cuisine.

7. Caribbean/MexicoThese two regions are not only easily accessible, but they also offer idyllic tropical backdrops for a beachside destination wedding. Explore Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or Riviera Maya as possible settings for saying, ‘I do.’

 

Deciding when to go and planning out all the details of a destination wedding can be overwhelming. Let one of our experienced Travel Advisors take some of the stress off your shoulders.

We’ll make sure you have all the documents and details covered so you can get hitched without a hitch.

Ask a Travel Advisor: What are Your Best Spring Break Tips?

February 20, 2019 |

Best Spring Break Trip Tips from Travel Experts

Winter isn’t coming — winter is here. If you’ve been daydreaming about a spring getaway, our Travel Advisors JoAnna Gonseth and Andrea Keiderling-Fehl have the best spring break trip tips to satiate your wanderlust!

They’ve got the insider track from how to book the right trip for you to where to go, whether you’re jetting away on the fly or want to plan the perfect trip with your entourage for next spring.

Check out their tips below and give JoAnna, Andrea or any of our advisors a call today to start planning your trip:

 

What makes a great spring break destination?

JoAnna: “When I think of Spring Break I think sun, sand, and clear water. Spring Break falls in a time of year that is typically cold for most areas around the United States, so it is a perfect time to head to a tropical oasis with warm water and amazing beaches.”

Andrea: “I think what makes a great spring break destination is what gives the travelers what they want as a departure from the reality they have been living in during the winter months and to kick off their spring transition. Not all travelers are looking for the sun and the sand.

Some travelers are just requesting a change of environment to a new destination or experience. I would have to say, though, that after a polar vortex an easy, 86-degree average on a beach with a frozen fruit drink in your hand is what the majority of the travel requests suggest.”

 

What are some off-the-beaten-path spots that may not be crawling with other spring breakers?

JoAnna: “Typically all of the major sun and sand destinations will have an increase in travelers including the traditional young Spring Breakers; not to omit the families and teachers that will also be traveling for their break at that time. Optional destinations that will work for a unique Spring Break experience would be touring a major city, a spa destination like Arizona, or exploring Southern California. These seem to be popular demands when travelers are looking for something more than the typical Mexico, Caribbean, or Florida.”

Andrea: “The areas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are low key, local spots great for a getaway.  European cities such as Paris, Brussels, and Athens are great spots that are not during their peak tourist travel seasons and are great values during Spring Break.”

 

What are your top 3 tips for planning a spring break getaway?

JoAnna: “Plan ahead so you do not risk the high pricing of a last minute Spring Break trip. (Look for) quality over price as many destinations will advertise very inexpensive vacations but may not be up to standards as typically the prices rise at recommended properties. Choose a close destination, you don’t want to spend too much time traveling versus enjoying your vacation.”

Andrea: “Plan early for availability reasons, being mindful of the busy travel time which causes congestion, and look for value.”

 

Is a cruise a good idea for a spring break trip? Why or why not?

JoAnna: “Spring Break is typically a week long, so time is limited making your destination choice important. A cruise shorter than 7 days could work as this would give enough time to arrive a day early to avoid any missed cruise departures. A standard 7-day cruise would be very hard to fit in a scheduled Spring Break week.”

Andrea: “I think they are a good idea for the right traveler.  A cruise has its own vacation schedule and itinerary for you to follow but a great experience to enjoy multiple destinations on one vacation for one price.”

 

Wherever you’re going, we’ll be there to help. Learn more about JoAnna, Andrea or any of our advisors and contact them today to start planning your trip — whether you’re looking for sun and surf or something else. Adventure awaits!

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations to Leave Ordinary Life Behind

February 14, 2019 |

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations

The world is your oyster when it comes to planning a romantic destination vacation. From wine-country getaways to relaxing beach retreats, a host of exotic locations are waiting to be savored.

 

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations

Some places are so lovely that simply being in them sparks romantic desire. Where, specifically, that destination is for you depends on your preferences and what you find appealing.

If you’re not sure which romantic travel destination will light your fire, browse this list and contact one of our travel advisors to map out your getaway.

1. Escape the Ordinary in Bora Bora. After just minutes in this exotic French Polynesian island, your everyday life will feel light years away.

2. Unwind in Napa Valley. Uncork a bottle of wine and sip in the pleasure of trying fine wine paired with even finer food.

3. Unlock Adventure in France. Ancient ruins, romantic castles and French cuisine are the stuff of legend and the makings for an unforgettable romantic retreat.

4. Set Your Spirit Soaring in Telluride. If adventure gets your blood pumping, you’ll love spending a day on the slopes together before retreating to romantic, candlelight evenings in your warm, wood cabin.

5. Slow Things Down in Savannah. If you live in the U.S., you don’t have to leave its borders to take a step back in time; visit Savannah, Georgia to experience a slower, more sensual pace of life.

6. Breathe Deeply in Spain. Take a siesta in the country known for them. Slow the pace of life and reconnect over tapas together.

7. Explore Beaches in Bali. Stunning beauty abounds in the white sand shorelines of Bali. Feel some between your toes as the sea washes your stress away.

8. Get Exotic in India. Discover each other in one of southern India’s otherworldly resorts.

9. Enjoy a Rustic Retreat in Nova Scotia. If you enjoy French culture, you’ll love exploring its rocky outcrops and sharing close moments together in candlelit bistros.

10. Grow Closer Together in Greece. Islands dotting Greece’s landscape provide miles of uncharted shoreline with beaches and tiny towns just begging for a moonlight stroll.

Whether you are planning your honeymoon or looking for a romantic adventure, these top romantic travel destinations and more are waiting to be discovered. Connect with a travel advisor today to begin your adventure.

What is Wave Season?

February 6, 2019 |

What is Wave Season?

What is Wave Season?

Wave season is the best time to receive added value on a cruise. It starts in January and runs through the end of March and it’s the ideal time to take action if you’ve been thinking about booking a cruise.

What Makes Wave Season Special

Cruise lines release their best specials and most incentives during wave season. These offers can include:

  •      Complimentary airfare
  •      Complimentary cabin upgrades
  •      Complimentary perks like beverage packages
  •      Discounted cruise fares or buy one get one free deals
  •      Kids sail complimentary offers

Whether you’ve been thinking about taking a quick 3-day trip to the Bahamas or a 7-day cruise to Europe, booking your cruise between January and March may allow you to maximize your vacation and enjoy additional perks or upgrades.

Use Wave Season to Explore the Benefits of Cruising

Maybe you are booking a cruise for the first time and aren’t sure where to go or what type of cruise to take. Cruising has many benefits that make them excellent vacations, including:

  •      Fantastic way to explore international destinations
  •      Variety of cultures and ports of call
  •      Lots of activities and dining options
  •      Wonderful wellness amenities (onboard and off)
  •      Excellent value

One of the things that makes cruising such an ideal vacation option is the ability to tailor your experience to what you enjoy. Whether you want to relax by the pool with a book or explore a new city, a cruise puts all kinds of activities and leisure options within reach.

Maximize the Value of Cruising with a Wave Season Booking

Cruise fares are often all-inclusive or nearly all-inclusive, meaning all of the cost of your food, lodging, entertainment, transportation and on-ship activities are included in the fare.

Typically, the only extra expenses you need to plan for are alcoholic drinks and any excursions you may choose to try at your ports of call. This makes cruises an excellent value since transportation, meals and entertainment tend to add up on vacations.

When you book your cruise during wave season, you add more value to your cruise fare since you are more likely to get the fare at a discounted price, or have items like drinks or excursions added in at no additional cost.

Whether you are planning your first cruise or branching out into a river cruise, exploring your options with an experienced and knowledgeable Travel Advisor can help ensure you get the cruise of your dreams at an unbelievable price.

Contact Travel and Transport today to book your next cruise while it’s still wave season!

Top Traveler Safety Tips for Corporate and Vacation Travel

January 30, 2019 |

Top Traveler Safety Tips

Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, it’s never a bad idea to review safe travel behaviors before you leave. Travel experts agree common sense is the most important thing to bring on your trip. Below are just a few helpful reminders to ensure your next travel experience is as seamless as possible.

Before Traveling:

  • Make an ID card for yourself with your name, age, blood group and other important information such as allergies and medical conditions (and do the same for children) in the event that someone in your group should require emergency treatment.
  • Be aware of pre-travel vaccinations and health precautions recommended by health professionals. The Center for Disease Control has a website travelers will find to be useful.
  • Make copies of your itinerary and/or passport information and leave copies at home with friends or family. Additionally, take a photo of your passport information and keep it in a secure location on your smartphone.
  • Consider using your work address and phone number for luggage tags, as opposed to your home information.
  • If traveling internationally, review country-specific information and travel alerts at the State Department’s website travel.state.gov.
  • Register your international trip with the State Department via their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Pack all prescription medications in original, labeled containers to expedite the airport security process. Pack extra medications in case you are away longer than expected. See this guide to international travel with medication from Travel and Transport partner WorldAware.
  • Be aware of local laws and customs of your travel destination, as you will be subject to the local laws.

While Traveling:

  • Take a picture of your traveling companion and any children first thing in the morning. In the event of an emergency, you can remember what they were wearing and can give the picture to police to quickly distribute to help in the search.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry. Keep valuables in the hotel safe or do not travel with jewelry.
  • Be wary of pickpockets in heavily congested areas. Women should wear cross-body purses with the strap across the chest. Men should avoid putting their wallet in a back pocket and instead, carry it in a front pocket or a jacket pocket.
  • If confronted, do not fight. Give up your valuables.
  • Keep a business card of the hotel to show cab drivers.
  • Match your apparel with locals. Dress to blend in, and avoid carrying money in a fanny pack.
  • Identify fire exits in your hotel and have an emergency plan and meeting place for all traveling companions.
  • Pack a small flashlight/solar charger in the event that power is lost.
  • Avoid political demonstrations, rallies and large crowds that may become violent.
  • In the event you find yourself in an emergency situation, the US Department of State’s emergency website can be used as a resource to locate the nearest embassy or consulate, report a lost or stolen passport or contact overseas citizens services.

Traveling can be a wonderful experience, but it is important to remember these details in order to have a safe trip. Please share additional travel tips that you feel are beneficial for the traveling public!

Why River Cruises are Hot Right Now

January 23, 2019 |

Why River Cruises Are Hot Right Now

Those planning vacation getaways might want to look into taking a river cruise. According to a state of the industry report in January 2014 by the Cruise Lines International Association, river cruises are gaining in popularity.

According to the group’s December 2013 survey of 500 CLIA agents, 61.3 percent of clients were interested in river cruising. CLIA CEO Christine Duffy said in a February 2013 Market Watch article that river cruises had a 10 percent annual increase in passengers, while the increase across the cruise industry was up only about 7 percent.

In fact, the rise in interest in river cruising is so steep that operators are having trouble keeping up with demand. In 2012, Viking added six new ships and 10 more in 2013. Avalon added two new ships in 2013 and a new route on the Yangtze River in China. Additionally, Tauck is adding two ships in 2014.

Though they each have their perks, river cruises and ocean cruises have many differences. You might prefer a river cruise if:

You value intimacy.

River cruises seldom have capacity for more than 200 passengers, and they might have as few as 120. Aside from allowing you to avoid the crowds and lines you might find on an ocean-traveling ship with 3,000 other passengers, river cruises with fewer than 200 folks aboard allow you the chance to socialize. In fact, they almost force socialization, as room service is rare and you share tables with others when you dine. You might even meet like-minded people with whom to explore!

You want a more cultured experience.

River cruises are often a bit more costly than ocean-going cruises, and they also don’t have room for the giant pools, water slides, rock-climbing walls and children’s play areas that appeal to families on ocean cruise ships. In fact, the boom in river cruising has been spurred on by older adults. It’s a quieter time – don’t expect casinos, either – but this is appealing to many people who are most interested in the sights, sounds and culture.

You want to spend more time on land.

On ocean cruise ships, you will often spend a few days at sea between ports, but many people enjoy this because the ocean cruise ship is like a floating party boat, with a myriad of exciting activities. But if you’re more interested in cultural attractions, architecture and the vibe of a foreign city, a river cruise is for you. The ships stop at a new port every day, so you’ll always have time to spend on land. Additionally, the scenery changes more frequently, and is often more exciting than spending days at sea!

You get seasick easily.

Thankfully, there are fewer waves on the rivers – if any – so people prone to seasickness will have smoother travels on a river cruise than an ocean-faring one!

You appreciate inclusive pricing.

Many river cruises are more inclusive than ocean ships. You pay more upfront, but oftentimes, shore excursions are included in pricing, which might be a guided tour of famous attractions or a walking tour of the town, though you’re welcome to venture out on your own. Also, the majority of river cruises offer free drinks and WiFi free of charge as well.

River cruises and on-land excursions are more likely to take you off the beaten path. Popular river cruises in Europe include the Rhine, which travels through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland; the Danube through Germany; and on France’s Seine River. China is popular for its Yangtze River cruises, and the Mississippi River in the U.S. is another popular spot for vacation getaways.

Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

January 15, 2019 |

Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

Maybe you frequently embark on domestic business travel but have never been abroad and thus had no reason to get a passport in the past. But now you’re ready to plan a cruise for a relaxing sun-soaked getaway and the question arises: “Do I need a passport to take a cruise?” The short answer is, “It depends,” but the answer that requires a lengthier explanation is “Definitely.” Here’s why:

Closed-loop cruises

There are some quirky laws dating back to the late 1800s that still determine the routes cruise ships are able to take today and whether they can arrive at a different port in the United States than where they started. According to the law, U.S. citizens who take closed-loop cruises – that return to the same U.S. port from which they started – do not need legally need a passport. Instead, they can embark on the cruise with their original birth certificate and a photo ID.

However, though it’s not required by the government or cruise lines, it’s highly recommended that you have a passport before hopping on a cruise. Some cruise lines even require it as their own policy. Here are the reasons why:

Caribbean port requirements

Though the U.S. government doesn’t require a passport for closed-loop cruise travel, it’s possible that a Caribbean island that you are docking in, for example, will require you have a passport to enter their country. Passengers are responsible for finding out this information on their own by checking with the travel agent, cruise ship or destination country.

In case of injury

Another instance where it’s vital to have a passport is if you are injured in a country and cannot return to the ship. In that case, you will not be allowed to fly out of the country you are in without a passport! Though this is unlikely to happen, it’s often wise to plan for the worst.

In case you fail to disembark

In some instances, if you are late and miss boarding the ship, you will be allowed to fly to the cruise ship’s first foreign port of call and meet your cruise there. However, you will be required to have a passport to fly. The same is true if you miss boarding the ship in a docking point – you’ll need that passport to catch a plane out of the country.

Thus, it’s highly recommended – vital, even – to have a passport for any type of cruise you take, just to be on the safe side so your vacation getaways are not ruined by poor planning!

Applying for a passport

If you’ve never had a passport before, you must apply in person. You can apply for your passport at most post offices in the U.S., and it generally takes between four to six weeks to receive your official passport, so make sure to get it early! If you’ve had a passport in the past and it has expired you may be able to renew by mail. Here’s more information about applying for your U.S. passport, including how much it costs and photo requirements.

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

January 9, 2019 |

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

When planning vacation getaways, it can be stressful deciding where to go. Travelers have to decide between going far from home or staying close and even whether they will opt for a domestic destination or head to an international hot spot.

Travel + Leisure recently compiled a list of some of the world’s best destinations among travelers. Only two U.S. cities made the list, and the others are all international locations.

 

  1. Travel + Leisure readers voted Kyoto, Japan, to be the world’s best destination. The city is an ancient imperial capital that’s home to the month-long Gion Festival that’s more than 1,000 years old. There is also the World Heritage Tours Bus that will take visitors around to see the numerous historical and cultural sites.
  2. Perhaps a surprising U.S. city to make the list is Charleston, South Carolina. This Southern city is a former colonial seaport that is home to antebellum mansions, a fresh seafood scene and a vast cultural background.
  3. Florence, Italy, offers a long list of cultural sites for travelers including Uffizi. If you want to venture through the city’s museums, admission is free on Sunday to those that are state-run.
  4. Siem Reap in Cambodia is a world-class adventure travel destination. You can go horseback riding through the city, visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum or head to nearby Kompong Pluk’s flooded rainforest.
  5. Rome has long been a top destination for travelers who want to see the world thanks to its ancient sights. The Colosseum is perhaps the most popular of all the city’s landmarks, but Rome is full of cultural activities, free concerns and children’s programs.
  6. Istanbul is home to one of the most breathtaking sites in the world, the Blue Mosque. The city is located at the junction of Asia and Europe and has a vast history. It’s home to museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace as well as the Istanbul Hippodrome, the Grand Bazaar and the sunken palace of Basilica Cistern.
  7. Seville is the fourth largest city in Spain and is known for its Mudejar heritage that dates back to the medieval period. There’s also a Sephardic Jewish legacy in the city that you can learn more about on one of many walking tours.
  8. Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors including a beautiful setting on the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a wonderful public transportation system to help you get around to see the distinctive architecture and taste the Spanish cuisine.
  9. Mexico City is full of museums and is home to beautiful architecture and cultural treasures. You can visit sites such as the Revolution Monument and National Museum in the Plaza de la Republica or just mingle with the locals on the city streets.
  10. New Orleans is just one of the two U.S. cities to make the list. There are summertime festivals including San Fermin in New Orleans, Satchmo Summer Fest and the COOLinary New Orleans Festival that allows guests to dive into the Crescent City’s culture.

 

Best U.S. Destinations
For those who prefer to stay in the U.S., check out some of these top destinations:

  • Visitors will feel like they’re in an entirely different world when they visit Maui. This island in Hawaii offers breathtaking scenery, some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and fresh seafood that’s to die for.
  • Boston is the cultural capital of New England and boasts many historic sights including landmarks from the Revolutionary War. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile history lesson and a must-see for those who want to take a step back in time to see the early beginnings of the country.
  • Yellowstone National Park is a must-see when heading out on a vacation. There are geysers, multicolored pools, bubbling hot springs and hiking trails that go on for miles.
  • Washington, D.C., is the perfect place to really dive into American history. As the nation’s capital, it’s home to monuments that are free to visit as well as an exciting nightlife.

5 (Underappreciated) U.S. Cities to Visit

December 30, 2018 |

5 Underappreciated US Cities to Visit

When people plan family vacations, they often think of the typical major U.S. city or tropical destination. This year, instead of going to the same spots, consider adding one of these “alternate” cities suggested by the Sydney Morning Herald:

  • San Diego: This SoCal city isn’t far from the U.S.-Mexico border and offers visitors a mission-style feel. If you’re looking for a family-friendly attraction, check out the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. It’s located in the cultural-filled Balboa Park, so it’s also other near other intriguing attractions such as the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Man and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. For those who want to go surfing, one of the best spots in the city is at Blacks Beach.
  • Pittsburgh: This up-and-coming city in the Rust Belt is a foodie Mecca. You’ll want to heat to Burgh Bits And Bites for tasting tours that will take you visit some of the city’s most beloved bakers, delis and butchers. The artistic side of Pittsburgh is more than inspiring. You can visit the Warhol Museum to learn more about Andy Warhol and the masterpieces he created. The most beautiful sight to see in the city is perhaps the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh for its gothic architecture.
  • Philadelphia: Head to one of the most historic cities in the country and the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall. You’ll also want to see the Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison that closed in 1971 but is open for tours and has a long list of ghost stories to make your visit an experience unlike any other.
  • Santa Barbara: For a Los Angeles alternative, check out Santa Barbara. This beach city is home to wineries and the quintessential California beach style. The Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers tours that will take you on dolphin and sea lion encounters, or you can get the best look of the city from the water in a kayak rental.
  • Key West: This southern-most city is a great place if you’re looking to relax. The water is crystal clear and the beaches are full of white sand. For a delicious dinner and tasty margarita, head to Duval Street. The biggest attraction on the island of Key West is The Vandenberg, a World War II vessel that wrecked just off the coast. There are daily trips that head out there and allow you to get an up close look of what remains.

Top cities to visit in the US
If you prefer going on a tropical vacation or heading to a tourist touting city, try these:

  • Maui is everything you look for in a beach vacation. There are blue waters and white sand for miles and the mountains make it feel like you’re getting multiple vacations in done destination.
  • Washington, D.C., is the place to go for everything related to American culture. At the nation’s capital you’ll find free memorials and sightseeing opportunities as well as several dining options.
  • New York is often what many people think of when they imagine a vacation to a major city. The Big Apple has theaters, museums and some of the tallest buildings in the country. Be sure to take a trip to the top of the Empire State Building and visit Ground Zero, the site where the Twin Towers stood until the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Orlando is home to Disney World and a place that children will always remember. The park features all their favorite Disney characters as well as rides that everyone in the family can enjoy.
  • Chicago’s architecture is what draws in many tourists but there’s also a lot to do from museums to restaurants.

6 Helpful Holiday Travel Tips

December 18, 2018 |

Helpful Holiday Travel Tips: 6 Tips to Travel with Ease

The airport is rarely seen as a place of excitement, but trying to maneuver through crammed terminals and backed up security lines during the holiday season can be downright demoralizing. While the aroma of oven roasted turkey or the tranquility of the family gathering around the fireplace may serve as your primary source of motivation for trekking through the airport during the end of the year rush, not taking advantage of a few key holiday travel tips may be more disheartening than opening a stocking full of coal. Here are some suggestions that could make your holiday traveling experience smoother than a festive mug of eggnog:

Don’t wait until the last minute

If you’re really pressed for money and finding that planes are all packed, your best option may be to fly out on the actual holiday date when rates can be lower, however, this isn’t always the case. The best advice is, If you know that you’re going to be traveling for the holidays, you’ll encounter fewer issues by booking at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Should your flight be canceled or delayed, an early morning flight will allow you to possibly catch another one later in the day.

Everyone has a lot on their plate during this time of year, but as the old adage goes, “the early bird gets the worm,” especially when it comes to booking a flight. You’ll be very hard pressed to find any good deals during peak travel dates, especially if they’re on the night before one of the big holidays.

Create a checklist

Nothing is more dismaying than getting all the way to the airport and realizing you left that vital something on the kitchen counter. Avoid this dilemma by organizing a travel checklist for yourself before you head out.No matter how tedious it seems, it’s never a bad idea to write a list of all the things you think you’ll need during your trip, then lay them out for packing the night before. Most airlines now allow you to present your boarding pass via your smartphone, which can be a great convenience. Just make sure your battery is charged so that you don’t have issues when you get to the airport. With so many other things to worry about during the holidays, it might be a good idea to just print those important documents instead of taking the risk.

Bigger airports aren’t always better

Many travelers tend to use the big metropolitan airports because of their convenience and size but larger airports are often more congested during the holiday season. Consider trying smaller or alternate airports during holiday travel if they are convenient. If you do have to fly through the larger airports, use all the competition that’s there to your advantage by reviewing all the airlines available to find the best deal.

Pack carefully

One of the easiest ways you can slow yourself down at the airport is by what you’re trying to bring onboard the plane with you. If you’re trying to stuff all your belongings into a carry-on bag, you should be aware of the Transportation Security Administration’s regulations regarding certain gels and liquids. According to the official TSA rules, you are allowed to bring one small bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and passes through the checkpoint. Each container must contain 3.4 ounces or less, and if you need to pack something with more liquid in it, it must be stored away in checked-in luggage. This is one of the most common run-ins with security that tends to unfold. Please keep in mind when shopping for airfares as well that some airlines have begun charging additional fees for carry-on luggage, in addition, to checked luggage. The lowest fare may not always be the best one if it means you have to pay extra to bring your belongings. Airline websites will have this information and a travel agent will also help to make sense of airline fees.

Shipping Santa

Nothing can dampen a child’s holiday spirit quite like not receiving a gift on time. If you know that you’re going to be cutting it close on your flight arrival during the holidays, you can always play it safe by shipping out all your gifts ahead of time. For starters, there’s the off chance that airport security may have to unwrap your present when going through security to thoroughly inspect it. But the biggest advantage you get by shipping ahead of time is that while your flight might be tardy, your Santa’s delivery will still be punctual.

Patience is a virtue 

Traveling during the holiday can be an extremely anxious experience, especially when you’re really excited to get to your destination. But the fact of the matter is that weather delays, flight cancellations and general chaos are practically inevitable during this time. Remember that there’s nothing you can do to avoid these unfortunate scenarios, and be sure to find leisurely ways to pass the time so airport misfortunes don’t crush your holiday spirit. If you do encounter delays or cancellations, having an expert travel agent to turn to rather than waiting in line or on hold with the airlines can be a great advantage.

Answers to the 5 Most Common Flight Questions

December 6, 2018 |

Many businesses use a travel management company to ensure that they get the best travel rates and avoid the headaches that often come with booking travel. What about when you’re flying for vacation travel? Here are some of the top air travel questions that we hear from travelers when they’re getting ready for a trip:

I booked my flight several months ago but now need to cancel. Will I be reimbursed?

It depends. If you bought a refundable fare, which is typically more expensive, you’re in the clear. If you have a non-refundable ticket and have to cancel you will be issued a ticket credit that you can use, in most cases, for up to one year from the day you booked the flight. You’ll also likely be charged a change fee that can vary by airline. Look for information on change fees on the airline’s website or you can contact your travel advisor for questions if you’ve booked with Travel and Transport.

How much time do I need between connecting flights for international travel?

Making your connecting flight is a common traveler worry, especially when planing vacation travel outside of the U.S. Delays can be nearly impossible to predict as they can result from so many factors. A two-hour layover may not always be enough cushion in the event of a delay. On the other hand, anything more than five hours could be intolerable. If you’re connecting in an international destination or returning to the U.S. to catch a connecting flight home, be sure to build in extra time to make it through customs, immigration and security. Trusted traveler programs like Global Entry and TSA Pre Check can help to save you time at these checkpoints. Booking your entire journey as part of the same reservation with the same airline or airline group is strongly recommended as most airlines try to build in the minimum adequate layover time and will work to accommodate you if your flights have been delayed. If you’ve booked the legs of your journey separately you may not be able to rebook your connecting flights without additional cost.

What if my flight is stuck on the tarmac and I need to get off?

Though you hear horror stories about flights being stuck on the tarmac for several hours, they actually aren’t very frequent. When tarmac delays happen, they are usually due to poor weather conditions. Thankfully, the Department of Transportation now requires airlines to let passengers off the plane if the tarmac delay lasts more than three hours and flight attendants will usually offer you water and do their best to ensure you’re comfortable during the wait.

What is the best day to book airfare?

There are many theories on this topic so a definitive answer might be hard to come by. Since many airlines release that week’s sales on Mondays, a prevailing theory is that Tuesday afternoon may be the best time to get a deal when airlines are trying to match each other’s fares or lower prices to compete.The answer is that it really depends on the season, the destination and whether or not there are holiday sales. An experienced vacation travel advisor can work with you to ensure you’re getting the best possible fares on the flights that work best for you.

Can you still get a window or aisle seat in economy class?

Yes, most airline still allow you to select your preferred seat at the time of booking, however, this varies by airline and demand. Buying your tickets early and joining the airline’s frequent flyer program are the best ways to ensure you get the seats you want. We also recommend checking in for your flight 24 hours in advance online. You’ll usually have the opportunity to confirm your seat assignment at that time. Many airlines now offer premium economy seats at an additional cost that are located in the front half of the plane and offer additional space and legroom. They also offer additional perks like preferred space in the overhead bins for your carry-on. When upgrading to these seats you’ll have the opportunity to select the seat location you want based on what’s available.